Note: I know that all of my blog readers aren’t Christians and come from many different faith backgrounds, beliefs, etc. If we differ, I have a little inclusive note for you at the bottom of this post. <3
Finding a new church last year when we moved to Alabama was a seriously daunting, intimidating, exciting, hopeful experience that led us to finding our pot of gold at the end.
It was daunting because we knew we wanted to find a church home that we would call our own for a decade or two or more. We wanted to plant roots in the same church from the get-go and hopefully raise our children in the same church throughout their upbringing. We can’t predict the future of course, but we wanted to find a church that we could see staying put at. We knew this meant that our search might take a while and that we’d need to be patient yet persistent.
It was intimidating because being the new family routinely walking into unfamiliar territory isn’t super fun. Figuring out enrollment for childcare, finding the worship area, and going along with the norms of new churches week after week is something many people find naturally intimidating.
It was exciting because we were always so hopeful when visiting a new church that maybe this could be “the one” where we invested as a fam.
And we remained continually encouraged and hopeful because we were able to refine our search and really zero in on the things we liked or disliked with every new church we went to. We got to the point where we could really predict what each other thought of the church before we even got in the car to talk about it. We knew we were getting closer and closer to finding “our home” with every set of doors we walked through.
We were prepared to visit many churches (maybe 8+) and then assumed it would take visiting a handful of those two or three times each in order to get a better feel of the church. To be honest, we figured it may take upwards of a year to commit to one church.
My biggest prayer throughout this process was that Jamie and I would find a church that we both knew without a shadow of a doubt was where we were meant to be. I didn’t want to fall in love with one and then have to “convince” Jamie of why it was so great, and vice versa. I didn’t want him to have to convince me either. I figured the odds were slim that we would both feel 100% at peace and at home at the same time with the same church, but spoiler alert: it totally happened!
I’m not entirely comfortable going into our specific “checklist” of things we were looking for in a church since this is very personal to us and based entirely on our past experiences, faith beliefs, etc., but the things we were looking for revolved broadly around a church’s theology and beliefs aligning with ours, what their children’s program was like, what the children’s program looked like that the girls would grow into, the size of the church, the potential for relationship with others to grow in Christian community with, and a bit more.
We wanted to find a church that we not only “got something out of” week after week, but that we could find a place where we could serve and grow the Kingdom as well.
We visited a couple of churches more than once, but long story short, we just kept coming back to the church that we eventually ended up picking. After visiting a total of six churches in 3.5 months, we finally decided after four weeks on and off at the church we ended up going with that it was “the one”.
This was validated so clearly and at the most perfect time, and we knew one day mid-July that the church search was officially over way earlier than we anticipated. I remember pulling out of our parking space, and Jamie and I were both all “Oh my gosh, WE DON’T HAVE TO GO TO ANY MORE NEW CHURCHES. THIS IS IT.” We were just so at peace, happy, and grateful.
We didn’t become official members of our church until the end of September, after we’d completed a one-month course that taught us all kinds of ins and outs about the church. This course gave us the opportunity to talk to pastoral staff one on one and ask them some tough questions that they probably didn’t see coming from me. 😉
If one of my friends or family members asked me where our church stood on X,Y, or Z issue, I wanted to be able to answer their question and stand firmly behind our church, our faith leaders, and our own beliefs. I didn’t want to say that we joined a church for social reasons, convenient service times, or that our kids had the most fun. At the end of the day, Jamie and I really wanted to see eye to eye with the foundations of the church so that we knew what spiritual ground we’d be standing and growing on.
Though every Christian church (hopefully) has the general same core beliefs (the Bible!), there are many things that make each church unique from the next, from the way they practice communion, to baptism vs. baby dedication, mission work, service opportunities, family opportunities, preaching styles, worship/singing environment, etc. etc. etc. . I think this is wonderful because we all are made unique and have different backgrounds, experiences, learning styles, etc., so it’s truly possible for every person who desires to find a church to find one that they will learn from and grow in. Sometimes that journey is just that though… a journey that takes time.
Anyway, I hope this encourages you to maybe start your own family’s church search! You spend a lot of time at church – one Sunday morning (or another service time!) at minimum every week, but could be much more. This is where you’ll find people who will likely have a loud voice in your children’s world, and in your own. This is where you will learn tools for living in the world according to God’s word, because this place can be a hard place to navigate, ya hear me? 😉
I am the first to admit that often I am tempted to sleep in on a Sunday, stay in my pajamas a little extra, and get things done in the name of having a quiet morning at home instead of going to church, but we never regret getting up and out the door for church. To be in community with other believers is an awesome part of our lives, and to be poured into and hear God’s word and how to apply it in our daily lives is so helpful through big and small events in life.
And by the way…
I know that all of my blog readers aren’t Christians and come from many different faith backgrounds, beliefs, etc. I would also bet that some of you may have belonged to the church in the past but felt burned or frustrated by your experience or by other Christians. I just wanted to say, first of all, thank you for continuing to read my blog, even though we may have varying faith beliefs! And I’m sorry if you have felt burned by the church in the past. I want people to know where I stand in my faith as a believer and would love to share more with you too, but I totally welcome EVERYYYBODDYYY to this site and love to hang with you here! So extra thanks for reading all of this, even if our faith beliefs vary. 🙂 We all have the freedom to choose! xo
When you were searching for a church or place of worship, what did you find the most challenging?
If you’d like to share, what keeps you from actively looking for a church for yourself and/or your family?
Why was finding a church so important to you?
Hi! I’m Erica, and I absolutely adore sharing my life on this website with you! I come here almost daily to blab about all of the things related to being a regular wife and mother in today’s ever-evolving society. I share about our new home, what’s on our kitchen table, what we’re hanging in our closets, where we’re traveling to next, my crazy 5 a.m. work outs, how I make time for girlfriends, our faith, and much more. We always have a lot of balls in the air and somewhat thrive on the chaos. I believe in the power of story-telling as a form of inspiration and entertainment, so I’m here to do both! I was born and raised in north Alabama and recently re-planted roots here again after my husband transitioned out of the Army (he is now in the Reserve and it’s going so well!) I’m a super proud mom to two little girls (ages 5 and 2) who seem to be the stars of the show around here (for good reason – they’re pretty great!) I’m so glad you found me and are here reading! I hope we can get to know each other here on the blog as well as Facebook and/or Instagram. xoxo